WASHINGTON (Dec. 25)
President Roosevelt has called on leaders of Catholocism, Jewry and Protestantism for cooperation between government and religion towards restoration of peace and alleviation of war suffering, and has received a reply from Dr. Cyrus Adler, the Jewish leader to whom the appeal was sent, stressing that “Israel’s mission is peace.” (Text of Dr. Adler’s reply is on another page.)
The President sent a letter to Pope Pius XII asking “that we encourage a closer association between those in every part of the world those in religion and government who have a common purpose.” An almost identical letter was sent to Dr. George A. Buttrick, president of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, and Dr. Adler, president of the Jewish Theological Seminary, with the added request that they come to Washington “from time to time” to discuss “our parallel endeavors for peace and the alleviation of suffering.”
Mr. Roosevelt’s letter contained this reference to the refugee question: “Furthermore, when that happy day (of the return of peace) shall dawn, great problems of practical import will face us all. Millions of people of all races, all nationalities and all religions may seek new lives by migration to other lands or by reestablishment of old homes. Here, too, common ideals call for practical action.”
In this connection it was significant that the President appointed as his personal. representative to the Pope, with the rank of Ambassador but without portfolio, Myron C. Taylor, retired chairman of United States Steel Corporation, who has devoted the past two years to organizing the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, of which he is American vice-chairman.
Pope Pius, in a Christmas Eve address to the College of Cardinals in Rome, welcomed Taylor’s appointment and outlined a five-point peace program one of whose provisions was the adjustment of minority problems. He declared:
“A point which should attract particular attention, if a better arrangement of Europe is wanted, concerns the real needs and just demands of nations and peoples, as well as of ethnical minorities; demands which, if not always enough to form a strict right when there are recognized or confirmed treaties or other juridical documents which oppose them, deserve anyway benevolent examination to meet them in a peaceful way, and even where it appears necessary by means of equitable, wise and unanimous revision of treaties. Once real equilibrium among nations is thus brought back and the basis of mutual trust is reestablished, many incentives to resort to violence would be removed.”
Mr. Taylor made public in New York a statement accepting his appointment and declaring: “I am doubly pleased that the opportunity comes through the field of religion, that great cornerstone on which civilization and man’s dearest hopes for the future have and must rest if human destiny is to achieve its ultimate triumph over the forces of evil.” He quoted the Pope, then Cardinal Pacelli, as saying in a visit at his home in New York two years ago, that in the days soon to come all the forces of religion would need to align themselves against a revival of paganism if civilization were to be saved.
The importance of religion as a force for peace had been stressed by President Roosevelt in his letter to the leaders of the three faiths. He compared the present day to the time of Isaiah when “nations walked dangerously in the light of the fires they themselves had kindled” in which day “a spiritual rebirth was foreseen a new day which was to loose the captives and to consume the conquerors in the fire of their own kindling.”
He expressed belief that a new order “is even now being built, silently but inevitably, in the hearts of masses whose voices are not heard, but whose common faith will write the final history of our time. They know that unless there is belief in some guiding principle and some trust in a divine plan, nations are without light and peoples perish.
“They know that the civilization handed down to us by our fathers was built by men and women who knew in their hearts that all were brothers because they were children of God. They believed that by His will enmities can be healed; that in His mercy the weak can find deliverabce, and the strong can find grace in helping the weak.
“In the grief and terror of the hour, these quiet voices, if they can be heard, may yet tell of the rebuilding of the world.”
Dr. Adler’s reply, telegraphed from Philadelphia, welcomed the President’s leadership in bringing the forces of religion together in the cause of peace and said he would convey Mr. Roosevelt’s message to the various rabbinical associations for transmission to their congregations. He stressed that the watchword of the Jewish people was “Israel’s mission is peace” and that this held true for the Jewish communities scattered throughout the world.